The exhibition, At Home with Scallywags and Raspcallions, brings together Daniel Wiener’s work from the past 12 years. It focuses on his sculptures which also have a practical domestic use. As he says—the tables, stool, benches and bowl are familiar objects but in my hands, as with all of my work, they still uncover subconscious inner demons.
Please guide us through the show.
A tall green twisting column topped by an opened-mouthed head is straddled by 2 benches. Alongside the thick-legged benches are a gaggle of similar heads with mouths agape. Is it a shriek or gasp or guffaw? Their plaited hair tangles like an overgrown vine beyond the control of the conscientious gardener. The title Stammering in the Mire comes from 2 sources. The marbleized murky greens reminded me of a swamp. And the opened mouths attempting speech are inspired by the story of Demosthenes, an orator who overcame stuttering by practicing speeches with rocks in his mouth on the shore of the ocean. Possibly, the benches are a place to contemplate and rest from struggling in the muck of attempted communication.
Two of the wall pieces, Green Thumb, Rose Knuckles and Clumsy Handshake, are positive and negative versions of a small head in profile connected to a big hand. As with many of my sculptures it takes some looking to detect the subject. As a sculptor I foreground the physical, the tactile, touch, the realm of the hand. The brain is in the body as the mind is in the hand. And while the head is top dog, its jabbering recedes into the background.
The mostly white table is part of a series where a cast head is set in different relationships to a table. In one, the head rises aloft from a table, in another the head seems to grow out of an almost animated table. In this one, the head, along with several others, lay in a heap beneath the table. It is as if the bust which is traditionally presented in a place of honor on a pedestal has fallen off its special perch, and is langouring with its undifferentiated sculptural chums. I like using colloquialisms in my titles because they are worn with usage and offer multiple interpretations. In Off The Table, On The Skids, perhaps the deal between sculptor and audience to clean up the mess of the imagination is “off the table”, while the ill-fated sculptural motifs are “on the skids” spilling out from their hideaway “under the table”.
While Off The Table, On The Skids is unlikely to be used as a table, the others in the exhibition are meant to be used. They are not sculptures of tables, but have a dual identity as table and sculpture. They are artworks, yes… but these tables are also meant as places to gather; to rest a book, to share ideas. To raise glasses, then set them down while we collectively weep. In my eyes, artworks can create a community, sometimes very small and other times extensive.
Daniel Wiener, Off The Table, On The Skids, 2017, Apoxie-Sculpt, 40” x 60” x 23”, photo courtesy of Daniel Wiener
Daniel Wiener, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012, grew up in Los Angeles but has lived in NYC for thirty-nine years. A professional artist since 1977, Daniel’s first show was at the Stephen Wirtz gallery in San Francisco. In 1982 Daniel was awarded a fellowship for an unusually long stay at Yaddo, which inspired his exodus to the East Coast. Daniel’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in both group and one-person shows, notably at Bravin/Post Lee Gallery in New York and Acme Gallery in LA. Recently, he has been included in numerous shows, including Studio 10 in Bushwick, and the BRIC Biennial in Brooklyn. Daniel had a one-person show titled Wide-eyed & Open-mouthed at Lesley Heller Gallery in 2019. In response to this show, Bomb Magazine published an interview with Daniel and Fawn Krieger called The Space of Intimacy: Daniel Wiener. He is currently working on a series of painting-like bas-reliefs made from self-hardening clay based on a technique he developed at Dieu Donne. Daniel lives and works in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.
Daniel Wiener At Home With Scallywags and Rapscallions
April 2, 2022 – May 1, 2022 Pamela Salisbury Gallery 362 ½ Warren St, Hudson, New York 12534